IntroductionThis article is a continuation of our study of the spiritual source of the diseases we are experiencing in our lives today. Why do we still have so many health issues once we have decided to follow in the footsteps of our Messiah?
In the previous articles we have seen that:
- Healing is not YHVH’s perfect plan – good health is!
- Not all diseases can be healed by doctors because some are in the spiritual realm
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHVH, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
It is crucial that we lead a pious life if we want to avoid the impact of curses, including disease, in our lives. We need to ensure that we not only avoid sin, but we pursue the defeat of sin in our lives. If we do this we will reduce the impact of the curses in our lives and start experiencing more of the blessings that YHVH has promised to us in Deuteronomy 28.
However, as we stand today quite a number of us have the impact of these curses in our lives. These are caused at the spiritual level and manifests itself in our health. In this article we will focus on one specific root of spiritual disease, namely fear. Fear is the root cause of a lot of psychological problems we experience, including stress.
Fear is not always negative. We were created with a natural degree of fear to protect our lives. It is what keeps us safe in situations that could threaten our lives during a specific incident. It was designed by YHVH to kick certain systems into action to ensure that we react in the best way. One of the natural impacts of fear, is that our concentration levels increase whenever we perceive threat.
Let us look at how fear enters our spirit and what impact it has in our mind and body.
How does this happen?Our bodies are designed by our Creator to be in balance. Scientists call this state of perfect balance homeostasis. Homeostasis includes multiple dimensions, including temperature, chemistry e.g hormones, neurotransmitters, blood sugar and blood pressure. When our body reacts to stimuli, this balance is disturbed. Examples of external stimuli include temperature, the movements we observe with our eyes, the sounds we hear, or even viruses anbacteria.
The reason our body disrupts the balance is to prepare to react upon the stimuli in a way that would preserve our life. In order for this to happen, our body needs to be able to process the input and then move from a thought to an action. Some of these actions in the muscular system can be voluntary and other involuntary. Running away from a threat voluntary action. Sweating or shivering because of the outside temperature is an involuntary action.
The path is normally from the neural system to the muscular system. In a number of cases this path goes via the limbic system. In order to understand how thoughts travel from our brain to our body we need to understand what role all these systems play and how they talk to one another. This will help us understand why fear and stress have a physical impact on our bodies that could lead to an imbalance in our body. When this imbalance does outside of accepted norms and it remains like that for a period of time, we call that a disease.
It is accepted by the medical community that our emotions can have an impact on our health and also on the rate at which our body recovers from disease. We know that fear is an emotion, thus everybody would be happy to agree with the statement that fear could have a negative impact on your health. Stress is just a modern politically correct synonym for “fear.” You experience stress because you fear some future event. Our career causes stress because we fear the possibility of underachievement that will lead to rejection. Our finances causes stress because we fear the day that we would not be able to provide for ourselves and our families. This stress is normally also a long term impact on our lives. If these emotions have a long term impact, our body adjusts itself in order to survive. What exactly are these impacts?
What is the impact of fear & stress on our bodiesImmune SystemFear impacts the immune system. When we experience fear or stress the limbic system triggers our hormonal system, specifically the adrenal glands, to release stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, into our bloodstream. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol is a hormone that is responsible for an increase in blood sugar, suppression of the immune system and halting bone growth. In other words, in order to fight the immediate threat that we experience, our body will focus on survival by giving us more energy (blood sugar) and shutting down energy consuming systems that we do not need right now. This increase in energy means we can think and run faster than normal. It causes an imbalance, that for a short duration would make a lot of sense.
However, when this fear becomes a long term influence, we start seeing the negative impacts of this imbalance. One of these negative effects is that the body develops a resistance to cortisol. Due to this resistance to cortisol the body will start to produce more cytokines. Cytokines are molecules that are used to signal between cells in immune responses. Their purpose is to direct cells to the place of inflammation or trauma. So what happens now, is that the body believes it is being attacked from all over without any real threat. False signaling is confusing our immune system.
This in turn leads to the body overreacting with it’s immune system. This then shows up as a bunch of modern diseases, including allergies, arthritis and eczema. All of these are diseases where the body is trying to protect itself when no threat exists. The results is that the body actually does more damage than good.
Hormonal systemThe hormonal system, also known as the Endocrine System, is also damaged by the long term exposure to fear. As discussed above, your body responds to fear by producing hormones, including cortisol. This constant overproduction of hormones over a long time, also has a negative impact on the system that produces these hormones.
Hormones are your bodies messaging system. They travel up and down your body via the bloodstream. The hormonal system consists of eight major glands 1.
- The Hypothalamus gland is the portion of the brain that maintains the balance (homeostasis) in our bodies. This gland produces the hormones that control the other glands to determine which hormones they will secrete. It also serves as the link to the nervous system.
- The Pituitary gland is considered the brain of the hormonal system. It is about the size of a pea and is located close the hypothalamus gland in the brain. It controls the other seven glands and also secretes the growth hormones. It secretes the ACTH peptide that stimulates the secretion of cortisol.
- The Thyroid is the gland that manages your metabolic rate. The metabolic rate determines how much energy you use when your body is in a state of rest. It determines the rate at which your body will convert food into energy. It is controlled by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. It is located in the front of the windpipe.
- The Thymus helps with the development of the immune system. It is situated behind the sternum, between your lungs. After puberty this gland reduces in size. It produces the hormone Thymosin that is responsible for the stimulation of disease fighting T-Cells.
- The Adrenal glands are two glands that sit on top of the kidneys. It regulates fluid and sodium levels in the body. It is also responsible for the secretion of stress hormones, including cortisol. The adrenal glands use the hormone aldosterone that controls blood pressure.
- The Ovaries and testes control our reproductive characteristics.
- The Pancreatic islets are the parts in the pancreas that regulate the blood sugar levels in the body via the use of the hormone insulin.
- The Pineal gland regulates biorhythms and mood by secreting the hormone melatonin.
One of the body’s reactions to fear, is the increase in cortisol levels in the blood. We have already discussed the impact on the immune system, but these increased cortisol levels also have an impact on the adrenal glands that have to produce it. This is commonly referred to adrenal stress. This stress in turn results in problems like blood sugar swings, food intolerances (like gluten intolerance) and also contribute to autoimmune diseases. The best known of these diseases today is chronic fatigue syndrome.
Increased cortisol levels also have a negative impact on the function of the thyroid. The thyroid is responsible for the T3 and T4 hormones in the body. Your body needs to convert T3 hormones into T4. Too much cortisol will decrease thyroid conversion into its active form (from T4 to T3). Cortisol also decreases Thyroid-stimulating hormone that results in lower levels of the thyroid hormone. The prolonged increase in cortisol levels also decreases the liver’s ability to remove excess estrogen from the bloodstream. This in turn increases the levels of Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG.) TBG is the protein that the thyroid hormone binds to in order to be transported throughout the body.
All of this results in a number of diseases related to the liver and thyroid. These include disease like hypothyroidism, including Hashimoto’s Disease and hyperthyroidism.
The impact of fear on the cardiac system is a well known fact. We are well aware how increased stress has led to a surge in blood pressure and cardiac health issue. If we want to deal with all these symptoms and diseases, we need to get to the origin of the fear in our lives. If we do not fix the source, we will end up treating the symptoms and not curing the diseases.
OriginFear that causes the spiritual diseases in our lives is not a healthy short term reaction. The fear that causes the spiritual disease is a consistent, sustained negative impact on our lives. Where does this come from?
AbuseOne of the origins of fear is abuse. When a person suffers abuse it can have a lasting impact on the person. Abuse typically causes anxiety within the victim. When a person becomes anxious some of their hormone levels rise fast. This puts the person’s body out of chemical balance. This anxiety, and the change in hormone levels, in turn compromises the person’s immune system.
Abuse can come from many sources. These include parental abuse, spousal abuse and strife. The abuse can also take on the form of physical, sexual or spiritual abuse. All of these can cause a spirit of fear in the victim.
We are well aware of the horrors that physical abuse by a parent can cause in the life of a child. The sexual abuse of children by people in authority positions is also a topic that has been in the press way too often. However, we seldom think about the spiritual abuse that a parent could cause. This is why we have a specific instruction in Torah that we should not exasperate our children.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
Parents can also cause stress in the lives of their children by means of their expectations. If parents have unrealistically high expectations of their children, and enforce these expectations upon their children, it could also cause ongoing stress for the children. The child lives with the constant fear of nonperformance and disappointing their parents. The fear caused by these expectations causes the release of stress hormones in these children. The elevated hormone levels in turn have a negative impact on the body’s hormonal system, as described above. This can also be induced by other authority figures like teachers and bosses. We could also create too high expectations of yourself due to the fear of man. This will result in you putting additional load on yourself to gain the acceptance ofothers.
Having the wrong view of who YHVH is, could also result in the same effect. People who live in fear of what YHVH will do if they step out of line could suffer the same consequences in their lives. It is crucial that we understand the true nature of our heavenly Father and we get to know that he wants our respect, not fear. He wants us to draw near to Him, not fear His punishment. He is a just Elohim, but He also forgives us our trespasses.
YHVH is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’
StrifeWhenever there is constant disagreement or arguing going on, it will also lead to anxiety or fear. Have you ever notice what happens to your body whenever you get into a heated argument. Do you notice that your heart starts racing, or that you start to get a red tint in your face? All of these are symptoms to show that your “fight or flight” system, also known as the sympathetic nervous system, has kicked in. This is the same system that will be triggered when you encounter fear.
According to Dr. Mary Meagher, “people exposed to chronic social conflict experience high levels of stress and consequent dysregulation of the immune system, thereby increasing vulnerability to infectious and autoimmune disease”. 2 All this strife, normally at home, also has a negative impact on our immune system. Your body has the same reaction as we described earlier, and this leads to the negative impacts to your immune and hormonal systems.
What is also interesting is that strife at home seems to have a bigger negative impact on the wives than on the husbands. Men “get over” these arguments a lot faster than women, making the duration of the impact on their bodies much shorter. YHVH created the wife to be on the receiving end of strong spiritual leadership, not on the receiving end of abuse.
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to YHVH. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Messiah also is the head of the assembly, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Messiah, so also the wivesought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the assembly in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Messiah also does the assembly, 30 because we are members of His body.
Lifestyle ChoicesWe could also experience self inflicted stress in our lives. These are inflicted upon us by the lifestyle choices we make. If we chose to follow a career with a stressful job, we will constantly be in a state of stress. These jobs may be high paying, but they come with a price on your health.
If you live an unbalanced life and are pursuing your career at the expense of other parts of your life, you will end up working more and more hours. Overworking means less time to relax and normalize the hormone levels in your body. These in turn will wreak havoc in other parts of your body.
The root cause for overworking and going after that highly paid job, at the expense of your health, often is the price we pay for other people’s opinions. What will the neighbors think? What will my colleagues think? In the consumer world we live in today, we are influenced by our peers to buy things we do not really need, simply because of the perceived status attached to the object. Owning all these status objects costs a lot of money and that in turn causesmore stress in our lives than we need. That fancy house or car may actually be the reason you have high blood pressure. It may not be your genes!
In Scripture, we find Paul speaking about the “love of money” in a number of places. Paul does not speak against money or fortune, he warns us against this idea of loving money too much. He sees the love of money as a reason not to put a man into a leadership position.
1 Timothy 3:2–32
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
The author of the Book of Hebrews seems to be in agreement with Paul on this topic.
5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “YHVH is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
Later on in the same letter, Paul goes even further and calls the “love of money” the “root of all sorts of evil.”
1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Maybe, one of the evils that Paul is referring to here is disease. It is clear that a love of money could end up causing disease in your life.
RejectionAnother cause for these types of problems could be rejection. Whenever we experience rejection by a loved one, we start to fear more rejection and also start to doubt ourselves. This can easily lead to anxiety in our life.
Rejection is one of the things that can “break” a person’s spirit. We have all seen how a child reacts when he/she feels rejected. We adults do not show it, but we experience it the same way. In Proverbs we see a lot of mention to the impact of a broken spirit. “Dry bones” were considered a sign of sickness and “fat bones” were a sign of a healthy person. 3
A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?
Have you dealt with all the rejection that you have experienced in your life, or is it still the reason for a broken spirit? Spend some time to think about this. Think back to the times when you experienced rejection by a parent, teacher, family member, spouse or child. Now also take note of what you feel when you think about this. If you feel any anxiety you still need to work on this. If you still have contact with this person, consider discussing it with them. They may not realize how you experienced the situation and with little effort you could clear up a misunderstanding. This will be beneficial for your health.
How do we fix it?
Now that we have an idea what the impact of fear and anxiety is, we need to determine how to stop these from having an impact in our lives. If we can fix it at the root, then the symptoms will go away. It does not work the other way around. Treating symptoms do not fix the problem.
When fixing the problems we need to address this at two levels, physical and spiritual. These two go hand in hand and you need to pay attention to both.
The physical approach deals with the removing the triggers in your day to day life. Once you have removed the triggers, you will need to restore your health to undo the damage that was done.
Removing the fear and anxiety from your life will require you to identify where this is coming from. What is keeping you awake at night, or what do you think about while waiting for something to happen? Once you have identified these sources, you will need to make some lifestyle choices. Is your career really that important, or do you need to spend more time with your kids? What expenses can you cut to start reducing the debt on your credit card? You need to have a serious discussion with yourself and then with your spouse. Make use of habits to implement these changes.
While you are busy with the removal of stressors, also work on your physical recovery plan. You need to realize that the years of fear and anxiety have had a negative impact on your life. The first steps is to learn how to relax. Make the effort to set some time apart to simply relax. Read a good book, make time for that interesting Bible study you always wanted to do, take a stroll in a park or whatever else takes your mind of the worries you have to deal with. Part of this relaxation is also to ensure that you get sufficient sleep. Your body and brain needs sleep to function properly.
The next step is to start introducing some physical exercise in your life. Do not over do it! You do not need to run a marathon to be healthy. Moderate exercise is more than enough. Take a brisk walk with your dog for half an hour, get outside and do some gardening, or simply skips the elevator and use the stairs whenever you can. All these small things will help your body detox itself.
Part of the detox process would also be to restore your limbic system. The limbic system is what needs to help you get all the hormone levels in place again. The most important step here is to ensure you have a healthy diet. Do you eat only processed food? How much fast food do you consume? Focus on ways to get more “slow food” into your diet. These are meals that you have prepared using the natural raw elements, like fresh tomatoes, salad leaves, cheese and other non-processed foods. If it comes out of a bottle, can, or box, it does not count. If you can, grow your own fruit and vegetables. If that is not possible, seek out your local farmer’s market. They produce some really great food and you will also meet some really interesting people along the way. You would be surprised how much fun recipe hunting and cooking can be if the whole family is involved.
The next step would be to look up some natural remedies for the problems you are experiencing. For example, if you suffer from adrenal fatigue, it is a good idea to give your glands a boost early in the morning. You can do this by cutting out any sugars , including fruit, early in the morning. Postpone your freshly squeezed fruit juice by an hour or three. What we have found also helps a great deal, is to drink a small amount of salt water first thing in the morning. Salt is what your adrenal glands need to get going. Once again, stay away from processed or manufactured salts. Get the real stuff that YHVH creates.
It is important that you take ownership of your health. Invest some time by studying the topics that are relevant to you. Find easy ways to make small but fundamental changes, and you will soon be seeing the results.
All of this will be aided by a positive attitude. Make sure you encourage yourself and others with positive words. The Scriptures teach us that this will help you be happy and healthy again.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
30 Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. 31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise.
While solving the issues on the physical side, we need to address the spiritual side as well. This is where you will treat the root cause of the problem. The physical process will help you heal and recover, but the spiritual elements make the problem go away.
Here you need to start with a hard look at yourself. Do an inspection of your life so far and recount what has happened to you. When you think back to your school days, which incident jump to mind? How do they make you feel? Happy, sad or anxious? Why? Do you remember the way a certain teacher always spoke to you? Was it with love or disapproval? Take the time and do a proper analysis of the past and the present. Think about things like school, your parents, siblings, friends and work situation.
The following step would be to examine what you perceive to be your negative or destructive habits. Where did these habits originate? Maybe these were a reaction to what was happening in your life at that specific point in time. Do not forget to include negative self talk into this list of destructive habits. If you do notice this, make a habit of speaking truth to yourself.
Final step is to examine your fears. What are you afraid of? Do not be so quick to say “nothing.” Do you sometimes think what will happen to you if you lose your job? Or, what will happen to my wife and kids when I die? How will I cope with disability when I get old? All these questions have the potential to create a level of anxiety in you. Thinking about these topics once in a long while, is no problem in itself, but when this type of concern starts driving your day to day actions, it may already be impacting your health.
The aim of all these steps is to find ways for you to return peace to your life. We know that we find our ultimate peace in our Messiah, but we also need to aim to have His shalom in our everyday lives.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
How do we find this everyday peace in our lives? It starts with trust. We need to trust our Heavenly Father above all.
3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. 4“Trust in YHVH forever, For in YHVH Elohim, we have an everlasting Rock.
You need to believe and accept that His plans for you are good, and you can rely on Him to do what is ultimately good for you. If you seek Him and His will, you are in a good place.
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHVH, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Numbers 23:19 (ESV)
YHVH is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
If you learn to speak these two truths to yourself whenever you experience fear or anxiety in your life, you will be on the road to recovery.
To maintain peace in your life, you also need to make sure that you stop it from returning. One of the most efficient ways to do this, is avoidance. Avoid the things that could bring this anxiety back in your life. The best place to start is to avoid strife whenever possible.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of YHVH.
The most useful tip I have received in this regard is not to argue about facts. Sounds so simple. But how often do you sit and argue with somebody about things you could simply look up? Get up and go look it up! Use any search engine and you will have the facts in a couple of seconds. Gone are the negative emotions.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
We have seen that if we allow fear and anxiety to exist in our lives for an extended period of time it will cause problems to your health. A number of the modern day, incurable diseases are linked to fear and stress. Yet, the medical establishment is happy to treat the symptoms without grabbing hold of the root. We should not treat these diseases, we should cure them. If you want YHVH to cure you of diseases like arthritis, adrenal fatigue, high blood pressure, and eczema, you need treatment on both a physical and a spiritual level.
We need to move beyond good diet and healthy exercise in our search for healing. We need to ensure that we are in good standing with YHVH and our neighbor. It is what Y’Shua called the two great commandments. We also see that the way to cast out fear is via love.
1 John 4:18–19
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.
You must also make sure that you take all steps needed to rid yourself of the spirit of fear. Scripture tells us that YHVH did not give this to us. We need to pray and fast to ensure that we seek His guidance to get this out of our lives.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
for YHVH gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
What can we do to rid ourselves of the spirit of fear?
- Inspect your life and where you find unrepented sin, repent and restore your relationship with your Creator.
- Also look for memories of a situation that still cause anxiety or fear in your life. Try to resolve these if you can, if not pray that YHVH will help you to deal with these and remove the fear from your life.
- Take your fearful thoughts captive – when you think of these situations, rather than get all worked up, recall your favorite verse from Scripture that shows you that YHVH is in control and you need not fear. If you do not have this list of favorites, go and search the Scriptures and memorize the verses. For some help read – Scripture memorization … having YHVH’s Word in our hearts
- When you capture these thoughts, make sure to speak truth to yourself. Look for the never and always type of thoughts. They are very seldom true.
- Boundless. “The Endocrine System.” Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 17 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 18 Jul. 2015
- Berlin, A., Brettler, M.Z. & Fishbane, M. eds., 2004. The Jewish Study Bible, New York: Oxford University Press. Comment on Proverbs 15:30